Champagne Picks 12/01: Churchill Downs

Juvenile expert Andrew Champagne analyzes race 7 at Churchill Downs and finds the value looking under the radar
Andrew Champagne
Sun, December 1, 5:18 AM EST

Churchill Downs has a bunch of 2-year-old races carded for Sunday’s 12-race program. I’m particularly intrigued by the seventh, which kicks off the Single 6 Jackpot wager and has drawn a field of 11 juveniles to go six furlongs on the main track.

This race revolves around the heavy morning line favorite, who happens to be cross-entered in a race on Saturday. If he runs here, he’ll be formidable, but I think there may be some value in trying to beat him. Let’s take a look!

The Heavy Chalk

#8 LITTLE MENACE is 7/5 on the morning line, and he’ll likely be close to that come post time should his connections point him to this event. He was second in his debut earlier in the meet, when he dueled through fast fractions and ran well despite a tricky rail draw.

Little Menace gets off the rail here, and it’s entirely possible that he’ll be too much for his rivals to handle. However, the jury’s out on how strong that race was, and it’s not like he figures to get an uncontested lead here. I’ll use him, but I’m going elsewhere for my top selection.

Another Intriguing Second-Time Starter

On the surface, the debut of #5 SPEIGHTSTOWN AGAIN may not seem all that impressive. He was one-paced and ran sixth of eight, but I think there’s more than meets the eye. First of all, that day’s winner came right back to win again, and while Speightstown Again was more than five lengths behind that runner, he was beaten less than two lengths by the runner-up. Furthermore, trainer Ken McPeek’s horses don’t usually win at first asking, and seven furlongs isn’t an easy route to go in one’s unveiling.

I think Speightstown Again has a big shot to take a major step forward here. McPeek’s numbers with second-out maidens are strong (18%, $2.54 ROI), and we’ll almost certainly get some value, especially if the morning line favorite doesn’t scratch.

Others to Use

#9 KICKIN’ KIRBY ran well in his debut at Saratoga, when he earned a 68 Beyer Speed Figure in a second-place effort. He went to the sidelines for more than three months and came back at Parx, only to miss the break. I think that last-out effort is a throw-out, and that he’s one to throw in given his first-out performance.

In addition, while I don’t think #2 WILLFRED can win, I do think he’s worth using on deeper exotic tickets. He showed some speed in his debut, and it’s likely he’ll attempt to go with the likely favorite out of the gate. If inside speed holds (as it sometimes does at Churchill), I think he’s got a big shot to outrun his odds and get a piece of it.

How I’ll Play It

Speightstown Again is a key horse for me, and I’ll box him in exactas with the other three I’ve mentioned. I’ll also have win money on him, too.

2 units: Exacta key box, 5 w/2,8,9

2 units: Win, 5

Andrew Champagne
AndrewChampagne
Andrew Champagne is a horse racing handicapper with a specialism in juveniles. One thing is for certain, Champagne gets the party started.
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